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As I was on my way to a particularly intense client meeting this morning I received word that Peter Rasmussen had passed away. The meeting took very long and was packed with information which I both received and disseminated, but almost all I could think about was the few short hours I had spent on Skype with Peter. It was just a couple of weeks ago when I tried to help him work out technical issues he was having with voice chat in Second Life.

I remember thinking at the time that he was such a nice man and interesting conversationalist, and how that was so opposite of what I was prepared for. As someone who was so accomplished in his field, he could have easily maneuvered me into the role of the nobody to his somebody, but that was far from the case. I was so looking forward to meeting up with him at future machinima talks, hearing his thoughts and throwing mine back at him.

I feel robbed, but it’s not really my feelings that are important right now. Turning back the clock is not possible, so it’s the closest survivors that have lost so much who now need everyone’s comfort and good will. I wish to offer my condolences to his dear friends and loved ones. My thoughts and prayers are for them and for Peter.

Goodnight, Irene!

As I scramble to remodel my entire site because of the demise of Stage6, I’m kicking myself for betting on the most beautiful horse in the race instead of studying the handicaps and weighing the pros and cons of the odds on favorites in the video streaming site wars.

I had the feeling early last year that Stage6 might be just a marketing vehicle for that company’s hardware products; but I thought a codec which produces such a gorgeous compression couldn’t possibly do anything less than sell itself in banner advertising revenues. That’ll teach me to think!

I guess the greedy muckety mucks at the UMG feared DivX was a little too gorgeous. They apparently set their attorney’s sites on DivX and kept on shooting.

I can’t help but wonder, had Stage6 been some company’s primary source of revenue, would they have fought harder against the onslaught of sleazy lawyers who were pounding on their door? Might they have leveraged such junk lawsuits into free publicity and taken advantage of their army of users to turn the fight into the classic Underdog vs. “The Man” conflict? Would they have devoted more manpower to seeking out the pirates and taken a more proactive role in policing their servers? We will never know now.

The way they issued a, “Gee, we’re sorry but the good news is you have three whole days to make other arrangements for your videos!” kind of statement will leave a sour taste in my mouth for some time to come.

I just hope they find a good home for their infamous hamster rather than simply dumping him off in the breakdown lane of the nearest freeway.

A homeless hamster

DIY summit summary

Well, I’ve been trying for days to write something about this past 24/7 A DIY Summit put on by the Institute for Multimedia Literacy School of Cinematic Arts (IML) — at least the part I played in it. I’m not much of a diarist or journalist, but I will say, I had a blast!! And here’s why…

• The people putting it on were warm, kind, enthusiastic and generous with their time and fortune.
• The academic atmosphere was a welcome change from my day-to-day routine. I’ve always had an affinity for the scent and surroundings of a structured learning environment.
• The DIY multimedia content I got to watch was varied, entertaining and thought provoking.
• And the food was great.

I had the distinct pleasure of leading the Hands-on Machinima Workshop on Sunday afternoon. It took place in a basement PC lab on USC’s main campus. Chris Wittenberg and his impressive tech crew made sure that Moviestorm was loaded up and ready to run on all of the machines.

There was a full house of workshop attendees, and they all came motivated and open for fun. I was amazed at how easily the folks took to the application. It almost taught itself. I thought my job would be to lead everyone in the methodical step-by-step process of creating a short scene, but I quickly became the guide to all of the hidden treasures in the software, hurriedly trying to keep up with everyone as they built sets and dressed and placed actors, like it was a game to be enjoyed and conquered.

We conversed a bit about what machinima is and even touched on Second Life as a platform for animated movies. Everyone seemed to take away a good foundational knowledge of Moviestorm; at least I hope they did. And I got to meet some talented and interesting people.

I want to thank Paul Marino for asking me to take his place in the workshop. He had scheduling conflicts for that Sunday, and I wasn’t expecting to see him at the summit. To my great fortune, we did get to meet and hang out at the reception Saturday night. So how cool was that? Very!

I also got to meet The Kid from Stage6 as well — another unexpected pleasure. He demoed a DivX device that hooks your TV to your computer network and plays the media it finds on the network shared hard drives.

A huge thank you to IML’s Mariko Oda, Virginia Kuhn, Mimi Ito and the many summit organizers I got to meet. They took care of everything for this out-of-towner and made his experience a joyous treat.

Here’s to next year!

Fleef FimicoloudIn between my schooling, my writing and attending to my poor neglected Internet business I’ve been scouting locations in Second Life for use with upcoming machinima projects.

Like some accidental tourist, I’m finding very beautiful architecture and captivating city layouts everywhere I travel, all of which are enhanced by the atmosphere created by the WindLight client. I’ve been taking so many screen captures I feel like I should use a few prims to make a 35mm camera to hang around my avatar’s neck and create an outfit of Bermuda shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, black socks and penny loafers. For the most part the people I’ve met during my travels and while learning how the in-world turns have been very kind and helpful.

Castles in abundanceI’ve posted some of my photography to my Website Graffiti gallery. There will be more when I have the time.

Besides building with both sculpted and standard primitives, I’ve also been using QAvimator to make all kinds of avatar animations; just wish there were more possibilities for controlling an avatar’s lip and mouth movements while in-world (it reminds me of the same limitation I was disappointed with when using Poser back in the late nineties).

After making some test runs, I’m now very confident that I’ll be able to make Moviestorm and SL blend together convincingly - even when it comes to matching moving camera shots; the things one program doesn’t yet do well, the other does quite nicely.

If you find yourself in SL, please know you’re welcome to stop by and see the digs I’ve set up. Here’s the slurl. Don’t forget to jump into the big green box.

After a few months of absence, I recently made a return trip into Second Life using the WindLight client. I could not believe how beautiful the landscape is with the new client. I thought I’d spend a few hours playing with it and that would be it. I got hooked. The next day I went back in and started burning up my hard drive space with in-world captures. This is the result:

A Second Life music video as seen through the eyes of the WindLight client and featuring a song “From Agnes, Flowers” I wrote back in 2005 for my mom. I hope you watch and enjoy. Please let me know what you think.

Moviestorm commissioned Fling Films to breakout the ending credits scene from Morning Run Amok and give it its own place in the spotlight. This is the result which highlights some of the items and animations from Moviestorm’s two new Domestic Drama expansion packs.

CJ Ambrosia returns in his role as YouTube’s larger-than-life HarryPackage88, the vid-prolific complainer dude.

Atom Films and Me…

The saga gets a little weirder: just after uploading my animation entitled “The Internet, You Am A Winners!” to the Atom Films site I received a letter from yourfriend@atomfilms.com stating I had violated their terms of service. I replied with the following:

Dear User Abuse Manager,

It would be nice to know exactly what “abuse” my movie committed. I’ve seen some pretty offensive stuff right on your home page compared to this, so I’m baffled as to why it got rejected. I don’t expect to hear from anyone at Atom Films any further, but it would be civil of you to explain your decision. That way I could explain it in better detail on my blog. Wouldn’t want to have anyone commit a similar atrocity in the future.

I own every part of this movie’s intellectual property: music, writing, 3d animations, so if that is your concern, I would appreciate another look.

Frank L. Fox
Fling Films

So now I am left scratching my head after receiving the following email today from “my friend” (yourfriend@atomfilms.com):

——————-
Dear Filmmaker,

Thank you for submitting “The Internet, You Am A Winners!” to
 AtomFilms.  We know how much hard work and energy goes into making a film and we
 appreciate you wanting to share your vision with our audience.
  Unfortunately, your film does not quite fit our current needs.

Thanks again for thinking of us and please, send more of your movies to
 AtomFilms!  We’d love to see them.

Best regards,
AtomFilms Submissions

***We’re sorry, but due to the volume of submissions we’re not able
 to respond to questions about why your film wasn’t selected.***
——————-

So which is it: doesn’t fit their needs or violates their terms of service?

I hesitate calling “my friend” at Atom Films a coward, but sending me a polite rejection letter after banning my movie outright for bigotry or theft or porn or whatever violations they accused me of seems a bit disingenuous.

I’m not angry that “The Internet, You Am A Winners!” was rejected on the grounds that it’s not good enough to be on Atom Films and playing next to “Possum Death Spree.” It’s a crap shoot whenever you submit your stuff for review anywhere. I’ve long since given up on trying to figure out why any reviewer likes one thing and hates another. But to accuse me of being a thief, peddling porn or being a bigot one day and then telling me you’d love for me to upload my next movie, is altogether baffling and insulting!

Needless to say I won’t be volunteering to get that treatment again.

Go Figure

After some of the stuff I’ve seen on Atom Films this rejection letter comes as a bit of a surprise:

Hello FlingFilms,

We have found that your clip violates one or more provisions of Section
 4 of our Terms of Service, which states that users may not:

 create a user name or screen name or upload to, distribute
 through or otherwise publish through the Site any Materials which are
 indecent, libelous, defamatory, obscene, threatening, invasive of privacy or
 publicity rights, abusive, illegal, harassing, contain expressions of
 hatred, bigotry, racism or pornography, or are otherwise objectionable,
 or that would constitute or encourage a criminal offense, violate the
 rights of any party or violate any law.”

Moreover, per our Terms of Service we reserve the right to reject clips
 at our sole discretion.  If you believe that we made an error, please
 contact us for further clarification or review of your clip.  We
 reserve the right to request further documentation prior to approving any
 clips.

Regards,

User Abuse Manager, Atom Uploads
Atom Entertainment, Inc.

I’ve now been called a bigot by Atom Films for submitting “The Internet, You Am A Winners!” Oh well. I guess the fear of offending an imaginary segment of the audience is now what the web.2 is all about.

My questions: is the movie bigoted? and if you think so, please tell me who I have abused or been bigoted toward. I ask here instead of at Atom Films because I would never expect a reply from them… other than another form letter.

You might consider this short to be a bit mean. If so, chalk it up to my week-long bad mood brought on by the wildfires that have destroyed so many nearby homes — along with the forest I’ve been in love with for over fifteen years.

I needed a quick pick me up, and this guy was handy. There’s a little bit of him in all of us. And if you don’t get any of the jokes, you just might have a little more than most.


The Internet, You Am A Winners - Click here for another funny movie.

I’ve finally got around to posting my one minute video for the UN organization’s StandAgainstPoverty.org campaign. I directed and recorded this footage entirely in Moviestorm and wrote the music score.

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged.

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